As political campaigners across the UK start knocking on doors ahead of the general election, rural insurer, NFU Mutual is warning that those chasing the countryside vote might find it has unexpected teeth.
Over the past two years, the insurer paid out over £1 million in claims for dogs biting visitors to rural properties. With the general election only weeks away, the insurer is reminding property owners that whatever their political persuasion, they have a duty of care to ensure that political canvassers are safe on their property.
Nicki Whittaker, Rural Affairs Specialist at NFU Mutual, said: “The amended Dangerous Dogs Act came into effect in England and Wales on 13 May 2014 and changes to the legislation mean that owners can now face prosecution if their dog bites or is aggressive towards someone whilst on their property.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, postal workers topped the insurer’s list of people bitten whilst visiting homes in the countryside, with delivery drivers, guests and tradespeople following close behind. What may surprise people, however, is that, according to a survey carried out in 2014*, politicians face similar risks of being attacked by a dog to postal workers when out canvassing or delivering leaflets.
Whittaker concluded: “Many homes in the countryside have large gardens or areas of land within the curtilage of the property. Unlike in urban areas, where dogs may be confined to the house between walks, rural dogs often have the run of the grounds around the property. This means that postal workers, delivery drivers or enthusiastic political canvassers could find themselves confronted by a dog long before they reach the front door.”
“Whilst dogs account for the majority of incidents involving visitors to rural properties, intrepid canvassers should also be prepared for grumpy geese, angry pheasants and ferocious felines in their pursuit of the countryside vote.